If I had a nickel for every time someone did an eye-roll or chuckled at the fact that I list my sorority membership and leadership roles on my resume, I wouldn’t have to budget my money.
I recently met someone in my industry who had a distaste for my affiliations with Greek life. I understand, there is a dark cloud that hovers over the terms “sorority” and “fraternity.” Many people look at us as over-privileged snobs who have to “buy our friends,” drink ourselves silly, and bully each other beyond repair.
However, 85 percent of the Fortune 500 executives belong to a fraternity. The first female senator was in a sorority. In 2011, my alma mater’s Greek community raised over $90,000 for charity.
I couldn’t help but be offended by the person’s eye roll. Not being able to defend myself, I sucked it up and smiled. But here’s my rebuttal.
Being in Greek Life has prepared me for the professional world in many ways and has been influential in my development as a person. Here are just a few of the things I learned from being in a sorority.
From Greek Week, volunteer hours, recruitment and supporting other organizations, we are constantly meeting new people and forming relationships. It’s kind of hard to be shy when you’re a sorority woman. You learn how important it is to support other organizations by attending and/or participating in their philanthropy events. You also get to meet different alumni at different events like Homecoming and Founder’s Day.. adding more connections to your network.
Whether in a leadership position, in a small committee or just as a regular member, you are always around hundreds of women. It’s impossible for everyone to get along, agree on one thing, or like new policies that are placed by the executive offices. Whatever it may be, you have to be on your A-game to be a mediator. This is particularly beneficial for the professional realm, especially if you’re in PR or HR.
Time Management / Organization
Between classes, work, sorority life and any other extra-curriculars, you have to learn how to manage your time and stay organized. This is where my reliance on task lists, planners and colored pens comes from. How else would I know Project X was due for Class B in two weeks from now at 10a? Oh wait, that’s the same day all of my volunteer hours are due. Do you catch my drift? This also helped me find cool apps that helped with productivity, like Evernote, GroupMe and others.
Depending on your chapter, you’re normally paired with a Big Sister and a Little Sister at some point in your collegiate years. Normally you get your “big” the first semester you’re in a sorority. After you’re initiated, you’re given a little sister… or in my case, four little sisters. The point of Big/Littles is mentoring. Your big mentors you through your new member period and so forth. She is normally someone who is ahead of you in their college career, who has been in the sorority longer and ideally, wiser. She’s there to help you when you’re in trouble, cheer you on at your best, and basically be your guide through college. If you’re lucky, you stay in touch with them after graduation. Either way, this is an important skill to have if you aspire to lead a team, teach an intern or run a company. These qualities are what separate a “leader” from a “boss.”
I could have (and sometimes think I should have) defended my life-long commitment to my organization. It’s very hard to describe something so influential to your life to someone who has only heard about it on TV. Some people appreciate it, others don’t.. that’s the nature of the beast.
ITB to all of my sisters.